Texas judge: “Robin Hood” approach to school funding is unconstitutional

A judge has ruled that Texas’ school funding formula is unconstitutional and fails to adequately fund or fairly distribute money among the state’s public schools.

A judge has ruled that Texas’ school funding formula is unconstitutional and fails to adequately fund or fairly distribute money among the state’s public schools, the Associated Press reported.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has said it plans to appeal to the decision, meaning the case appears destined for the Texas Supreme Court. If the ruling stands, state legislators will have to create a new funding formula.

The state district judge, John Dietz, made a verbal decision last February, and his recent written decision reiterated his position that the Texas’ “Robin Hood” approach to supporting its schools did not satisfy the state’s constitutional requirements.

Texas school districts, both poor and affluent, appear to be universally opposed to the method – although for different reasons. The poorer schools say the funding formula isn’t enough while the wealthier schools say it is difficult to convince local residents to support tax increases when they know some of the revenue will leave the area. Districts with high property values must relinquish some of the collected revenue to the poorer districts.

Dietz wrote that the funding system is "structured, operated and funded so that it cannot provide a constitutionally adequate education for all Texas schoolchildren,” the AP reported.

This ruling, which came even after the Texas Legislature devoted $3.4 billion in additional funding to its schools last year, also bars Texas from using some of its current funding method as of July 2015. The delay is intended to give the state time to address the issues.

More than 600 school districts sued the state after the legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education in 2011.

 

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